The South African mining industry in 2020 contributed R371.9 billion to GDP, a dip from R376.4 billion
- While Covid-19 hit sectors of the economy in 2020, the mining industry escaped without much harm.
- Commodity prices carried the mining sector through the pandemic, although fewer people were employed.
- When the pandemic hit, exports dropped 55% within three months from January, and took just one month to recover.
The mining industry in 2020 employed over 9 000 fewer people than the previous year as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country, data released by the Minerals Council of South Africa on Thursday showed.
Although the sector experienced disruptions – including the impact on employee numbers – the industry body said commodity prices had surged.
“The full year 2020 employee numbers are 452 866, which is 9 172 jobs less than the average during 2019, or 2% lower,” according to the data.
Prices were 17% higher in January 2020 compared to nine years earlier, after a recovery from the global financial crisis.
However, contribution to GDP was at R371.9 billion, a dip from R376.4 billion.
While fewer people were employed in the sector, compensation for employees increased by around 5% from two years previously, with R151.7 billion paid to employees overall, up from R144.4 billion in 2019.
“The negative impact on mining was lighter than that compared to many other parts of the economy due to the excellent cooperation and collaboration between the industry and government in getting the sector safely back to work as quickly as possible,” said the Council’s Chief Executive Roger Baxter.
“Many mining companies recorded increased revenues and profits, thanks to higher commodity prices and a weaker rand.”
The report stated that during Covid-19, commodity prices kept on rising from the beginning towards the end of 2020.
“These (rand) commodity price improvements had a marked impact on sales and exports,” it said.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, exports declined by 55% within three months from January 2020, and then took just one month to recover. While the mining houses raked in the profits, safety levels regressed. The year 2019 had been the safest on record, however, the industry observed a “disappointing regression” in 2020 with 60 fatalities, compared to 51 in 2019. The figure represents an increase of 18% in fatalities year-on-year.